2023-0803: U.S. Military Aid for Taiwan; One Year Since Pelosi’s Historic Taiwan Visit

U.S. Announces US$345 Million Military Aid to Taiwan

On July 28, the U.S. announced a US$345 million military aid package for Taiwan, in what would be Washington’s first major package drawing on the U.S.’ own stockpiles under expedited “Presidential Drawdown Authority” (PDA) to help Taiwan counter China.

The White House announced in a memorandum that the package will include “defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training” to provide assistance to Taiwan.

Washington is to send portable air defense systems, intelligence and surveillance capabilities, firearms and missiles, said two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters ahead of the announcement.

U.S. lawmakers have been pressuring the White House and the Pentagon to speed up arms delivery to Taiwan. The goals are to help Taiwan counter China and to deter Beijing from considering invading, by providing Taiwan enough weaponry that would make the price of an invasion too high.

Following the White House’s announcement, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) issued a statement applauding the move, which he said “should have occurred much earlier.”

“I am glad to see the Biden administration send this much-needed weapons package to Taiwan as Communist China eyes further aggression,” McCaul said, adding that the U.S. “must remain committed to providing necessary defense articles to enable Taiwan in maintaining deterrence and self-defense capability.”

Meanwhile, in Taipei, the Taiwan Presidential Office expressed Taiwan’s gratitude to the U.S. for fulfilling its commitment to Taiwan’s security, adding that Taiwan would work to deepen bilateral ties and promote peace, stability and the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) also expressed its appreciation, saying that the “Presidential Drawdown Authority” (PDA) is an important tool to shore up Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities besides arms sales.

Taiwan reportedly received the first shipment of Stinger missiles from the U.S. in May through the PDA, but the MND would not confirm the news.

The U.S.’ newly announced military aid to Taiwan is part of the PDA approved last year by the U.S. Congress in the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023” (FY23 NDAA) along with a limit of US$1 billion per fiscal year.

The PDA enables the U.S. president to direct a drawdown of defense articles and services from the Pentagon’s existing stocks to provide military assistance to U.S. allies in crisis situations. This gets weapons delivered faster than providing funding for new weapons.

The Pentagon has used a similar authority to get billions of dollars worth of munitions to Ukraine.

Getting stockpiles of weapons to Taiwan before a Chinese attack is one of the lessons the U.S. has learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said earlier this year.

Ukraine “was more of a cold-start approach than the planned approach we have been working on for Taiwan, and we will apply those lessons,” Hicks said.

Efforts to resupply Taiwan after a conflict erupted would be complicated because Taiwan is an island, she added.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202307290001
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/07/30/2003803956

Pelosi Marks First Anniversary of Her Historic Visit to Taiwan

On August 2, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) marked the first anniversary of her historic visit to Taiwan as U.S. House speaker with a statement praising the trip as a testament to America’s “unwavering commitment” to Taiwan.

The former House speaker said her delegation’s visit to Taiwan from August 2-3, 2022 sent “an unequivocal message” to the world that “America stands with Taiwan as it defends itself and its freedom.”

The visit honored “the unwavering commitment America has made to Taiwan” based on their common interest in “mutual security, shared values and economic success,” said Pelosi, whose speakership was taken up by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in January.

Solidarity with the people of Taiwan is “as important as ever, as our world faces a stark choice between democracy and autocracy,” she went on. “Beijing’s continued aggression against Taiwan is cowardly and cannot be met with silence.”

Pelosi said her brief Taiwan trip, which made her the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, had been met with a “very positive” response from around the world and was followed by more U.S.-Taiwan bilateral engagement.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement issued on August 3, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked Pelosi for her support for Taiwan, and said it would continue working with global partners to defend democracy, freedom, human rights, and the rule-based international order.

After Pelosi’s whirlwind visit to Taiwan in August 2022, China launched a series of retaliatory measures against Taiwan, including conducting week-long large-scale military exercises around Taiwan to simulate a blockade.

The Chinese military also fired 11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles into waters off Taiwan during the drills, Taiwan’s defense ministry confirmed while condemning the move as having “jeopardized regional peace.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken later criticized China’s military drills as “provocative,” saying there “is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate, and escalatory military response.”

During her 19-hour stay in Taiwan, Pelosi, joined by five other Democratic members of the House of Representatives, met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the Presidential Office and Legislative Speaker You Si-kun at the Legislature.

She also met with those who have spoken out against China’s human rights violations, including Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Lee Ming-che and Tibetan envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen Bawa, in Taipei.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202308030002